SEATTLE — If it came down to keeping one or the other, Seattle made a wise choice in investing in Fredy Montero over Freddie Ljungberg.
Fresh off the MLS Player of the Month award for July, the Colombian striker is arguably the hottest striker in Major League Soccer. The player who has been involved in nearly all of Seattle’s goal-scoring sequences added two more against the Chicago Fire to give Seattle a 2-1 victory.
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Montero’s 19 combined goals (10) and assists (9) account for 76 percent of the team’s total, a figure that’s matched league-wide only by Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux.
Saturday night against the Chicago Fire, Montero was Seattle’s only player to register a shot on goal. Luckily for Sounders, two of those chances found the net and earned them three vital points.
Montero, as always, was his level-headed self in the post-match comments.
"It was a very big goal,” he said of the game-winning tally in extra time. “We have been dreaming about this situation and a goal so late in the game, giving us three points, got us closer to the playoffs."
With the victory, Seattle are now 5-0-2 in their last seven league matches, including four consecutive victories at home. The club owes a great deal of that success to Montero, who has picked up the goal-scoring slack with Blaise Nkufo still goalless on the season. Chicago coach Carlos de los Cobos confirmed that he had spoken with his team in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to nullify Montero. [inline_node:317171]
Montero’s coach, Sigi Schmid, still believes that the Colombian has more to offer.
"Well, he got two goals. A lot of times, people just measure your game by goals,” Schmid said. “I think he has played … [well], but certainly his motivation [Saturday night] was good and obviously his finishing was good. I was very pleased with that."
After Seattle lost midweek to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League, Schmid attributed the loss to the Mexican side having higher-paid strikers. Montero seems to have established that class, to the point where fans are wondering if the Sounders will be able to keep Montero in Major League Soccer next season. At 23 years of age, the Colombian forward has spoken of transfers to bigger leagues.
Nevertheless, Montero’s focus is still on Seattle and how he can lead his team to the playoffs, as proved by his crucial brace.
His first goal came off a cross from Tyson Wahl. After a heavy first touch, he needed to show composure to finish the chance off.
“I controlled the ball and saw they had a pretty high line,” said Wahl, who earned his first MLS assist on the play. “Fredy was just waiting to cheat it and there was a lot of space … so I just whipped it in. It skipped off the turf pretty nicely and he finished up his second chance on it.”
The second came in additional time, the Sounders first game-winning goal since Mike Fucito gave Seattle a 1-0 win against the Kansas City Wizards in April.
"I think it can [be a defining win],” midfielder Nathan Sturgis said. “We need to win our games at home. To end the season a lot of games are on the road, so it's really important for us to get three points at home so we don't have as much pressure on the road to get points."